We are a smallish league and over the past year have grown enough that we consistently have 25-30 skaters and are ready to split into home teams. Do you have any advice for us?
Yes. Don't. As a rule home teams are a bad idea. I know that there are a number of successful leagues out there that have home teams and make it work and maybe even make it work really well. And I am sure someone could come up with a very specific example of a circumstance where home teams are a good idea, but I haven't heard it yet. Having said that,
There is no faster way to divide your league and drain your resources than to split into home teams.
First of all, you are literally pitting league members against each other. Not only do the skaters view their league-mates on the other teams as opponents for the duration of the home team season, but each team develops its own culture which can cause lots of problems when it comes to dealing with conflicts within the league as well as consistency with things like policy enforcement. It only gets worse if you have an All Star or Travel Team made up of home team skaters. Then the skaters' relationships with each other have to shift from opponent to teammate from month to month, or worse, from night to night if the seasons run concurrently.
In addition to the interpersonal issues that arise form dividing into home teams, there are also several functional issues. Having home teams means you have so split all you resources. All of a sudden you've got two or more teams vying for the same fan base, fundraising opportunities, advertising, officials, money, etc. You also don't have any flexibility as your league grows and shrinks. You have a set number of teams and therefore a set number of skaters you have to have bout. What happens if your league experiences a year of declining retention (and we all go through that sooner or later)? You may end up with seasons where one team only has 9 active skaters. And then if you have a season where you have a great influx of new skaters (hooray!) and you don't have enough spots on teams for all the new skaters to get drafted or to be played. Then you end up having new skaters in your league who stay in a draft pool for far too long or make it onto a team but never get to play. That's a sure fire way to lose your next generation of league members.
Instead of splitting into home teams, we recommend creating fluid A/B/C teams. This gives your league the flexibility to expand and contract the number of teams you have as needed as well as gives your fan base one 'home town team' to root for. Within this model there remains flexibility to do 'fun' and 'mash up' bouts if your league is remote and can't contract enough teams from other cities come to your venue to bout. It also utilizes your resources in a more efficient manner since there aren't competing interests.
Roller Derby Solutions has a number of resources available including organizational structure planning and policies and practices to support growing leagues who are ready to make the next step.